The Wellington Phoenix were made to rue their missed chances.
Despite creating 15 shooting chances, the Nix drew a blank against Newcastle Jets as the Australian side beat their New Zealand opposition 3-0.
Head coach Ufuk Talay was disappointed with the result, but not the performance, as he claimed Wellington Phoenix had done more than enough to win the game.
He said: “Yeah I’m disappointed with the result, we did enough in the first half to win the game.”
The Nix looked to control the game, and their average field position included just two players back in their half - with full-backs Liberato Cacace and Callan Elliot pushing high up the pitch.
Elliot has started three times since lockdown ended and has been a surprise package as far as Wellington are concerned. He initially impressed Talay with his fitness levels following the return of football, and takes on instruction well.
Add to that his excellent energy levels and ability to get up and down the right-hand side, and you’ve got a player that ticks many of the head coach’s boxes.
“Some players got back to fitness a lot quicker and Cal is one of those players,” Talay said. “I feel like he gives us a lot of energy going forward and defensively he does a good job as well.”
You can have attacking full-backs until the cows come home, but if the forwards don’t stick the ball in the back of the net the team is never going to win. Marquee signing Gary Hooper sat this one out, but Talay refused to blame that on their poor performance in front of goal.
He said: “With different players we set up a little different. We try to utilise our players’ attributes as best we can in the way we play our game. The way we set up, we created enough to see the game out in the first 45 minutes.”
Wellington will be hoping that Hooper is back to full fitness by the time the elimination final comes round in nine days. Talay has talked a lot about his pride in their performance, even when results haven’t gone their way.
But in finals football, the result is all that matters. The football can be pretty as you’d like, but the players still need to take their chances.